The Women of World War One

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The Women of World War One


In 1914 when Britain went to war, it was very much a man’s world. There was little that women could do. However, by the end of hostilities it turned out there was little they couldn’t do. Kate Adie traces the changing attitudes towards women during this period as they were gradually – and begrudgingly – allowed to take on traditionally male roles, if only “for the duration”.

It’s the little details of this liberation that are so extraordinary. How startling is it to learn that a munitions factory canteen was the first time some women had ever been served a meal, and how ludicrous that female doctors (the few that there were) had not been allowed to treat male patients?

While the government intended that, after the war, women would go back to sewing and caring for their menfolk, women thought otherwise, thus paving the way for sexual equality.


Broadcaster and former war correspondent Kate Adie examines the impact of women taking over jobs from men who were fighting abroad during the First World War. Innovations included women police officers and football teams, as well as female surgeons operating on men for the first time. Kate explores whether the changes in women's lives were long-lasting or only for the duration of the conflict.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Kate Adie
Director David Vincent
Executive Producer Chris Granlund
Producer David Vincent
Documentary History